Updated: Feb 16
Guest post by Danny Iniguez
Your health and wellness goals are much like monetary investments – you stay disciplined and make short-term decisions, sacrificing immediate gratification for long-term benefits.
When we were teenagers, we wanted the nice stereo, latest fashion brands, or maybe saved up for the nice car. For all intents and purposes, they were to impress someone, show status, or just crank up our favorite music on our high-end sound system.
Now that we are older, we can look back on how unimportant those things were, wishing we had used our money a little more wisely. Think about how much we would have acquired in interest or stocks at this point of our life if we just put some, or all, of our earned income into some type of long-term investments. Delayed gratification can usually lead to long-term benefits.
The exact same can be applied to wellness, exercise, and all things that encompass healthy living. Sure, it would be great to have pizza or a cheeseburger with fries from your favorite restaurant every night, but that isn’t going to have very good long-term results for your body.
So, if you haven’t already clicked away because you hate the idea of giving up a hefty plate of chicken wings and nachos and you will consider investing in long-term health, grab your kale shake and multivitamins as I give you my 5 key points of advice for anyone looking for quality of life for many years to come.
1. Train to Build Strength and Muscle
Not everyone has the genetics to be a bodybuilder, and it can be discouraging watching someone pump iron and see what seems like instant results. But everyone can grow muscle, improve their appearance, and feel better if they strength train. And this is even more important as we get older because at a certain point, your body starts to lose muscle, along with bone density and other things. There is nothing we can do about this process as time affects us all the same way, but we can slow and delay the process.
Simply put, the more muscle you have on your body, the longer it lasts. You may not be as strong and muscular year to year, but you still have plenty to enjoy throughout your life if you put in the effort to add muscle mass to your body as early as you can for as long as you can, then maintain it to the best of your abilities.
Think of working out and adding muscle the same way you look at your retirement fund – you don’t know how much you will need later, so you should get as much as you can in your account as possible so you can enjoy it without worry.
2. Do Cardio to Build A Healthy Heart
If you are already a gym rat/gym bro/gym aficionado, you already know the importance of resistance training (or maybe you just enjoy it for the aesthetics). But we can’t and shouldn’t neglect cardiovascular work. When I first got into the gym, there was a myth that permeated the “bros” thought process about how cardio “kills your gains.” Simply put, if you did cardio, any cardio, you would lose that hard earned muscle you built, or worse yet, keep you from building it.
“It’s the difference between finishing 18 holes on the golf course and sitting in the shade of the cart to cool off while your friends keep playing.”
Maybe I was misinterpreting it due to my youth and lack of experience and education, but there are a lot of people who believe some form of that myth, and it allows them the excuse to not do cardio.
In reality, cardio is just as important for maintaining long-term health and quality of life. Having your heart conditioned to physical stress allows you to do more of what you love and keep moving. It’s the difference between finishing 18 holes on the golf course and sitting in the shade of the cart to cool off while your friends keep playing.
Keeping your heart conditioned and healthy is vital to many aspects of a long healthy life. Do it as much as you can at even the most moderate intensity. Your heart and health will thank you for it.
3. Work on And Keep Your Flexibility
Stretching is one of those things that seems exclusive to certain people. The yogis doing headstands shaped like a pretzel, the gymnast whose bodies defy the laws of physics, the random person, who never stretches but seems to be able to put their palms to the floor (my sister was annoyingly this way). It can be discouraging.
I hated stretching when I was younger. I could never touch my toes to save my life. And do not get me started on the sit and reach test at school. I felt discriminated against for not only being overweight, but inflexible too.
Now that I am older, wiser, and, fortunately, educated in kinesiology, I put just as much effort into stretching as I do everything else. When you are as active as I am on a daily basis and nurse as many injuries as I have had, it becomes vital. My body doesn’t behave like it used to. Things get stiff, tight, painful, and don't let me move like I want to.
Stretching is in my daily routine in some way shape or form, and it should be in your routine too. I don’t recommend taking a yoga class right away as most are too advanced for the average non-yogi. It can also be discouraging seeing how easy stretching comes to certain people who have essentially dedicated their life to practicing yoga.
Start simple but be consistent.
My advice: start simple, but be consistent. Do some basic stretches. Toe touches, standing quad stretches, chest, neck, and shoulder stretches. Basically, anything you can do without equipment and in the comfort of your own home will do. Begin with at least 60 seconds or longer depending on tightness (trust me, you’ll know). Take it a step further and do them after workouts when the body’s temperature is elevated and muscle tissue is more pliable. Incorporating them post-workout will feel amazing.
Do them in the morning, during lunch, and even before bed. I personally don’t think the average person can stretch too many times a day.
Stretching is the easiest part of the workout to skip. You’re usually in a rush and usually just don’t feel like doing it. All of my clients are mandated to stretch after their workouts. We have an entire segment of time dedicated to this during our sessions. So, make it a priority and carve some time out. You will feel better, help prevent injury, and be able to move more.
4. Eat Your Vegetables
One of my favorite coaches has a saying I will paraphrase –
“Eating healthy is simply not eating like a child; Avoid sugary cereals, pastries, sodas, candy, chips, and eat your vegetables” – my favorite coach.
I think he hits the nail on the head with this. People overcomplicate things when it comes to eating healthy. They don’t want to give up the things they enjoy, so they find some miracle diet that will make it simple for them. Keto, vegetarian, carnivore (yes, a diet that is all meat does exist), paleo… The list goes on and on.
I won’t get into the arena of nutrition as it is a perilous environment that is unforgiving if you dare go against the ideology of any of the different schools of thought. But I will say this – if you can focus on one thing, start by eating more vegetables.
Eating more vegetables will put more volume of food with less calories in your stomach which will keep you feeling fuller. Feeling fuller with less calories will allow you to lose body fat without much effort. Then there are the vitamins and minerals you will be getting. These micronutrients are vital to a lot of processes in the body that help with exercise, energy levels, and feeling better all around.
Sure, eating veggies doesn’t seem very fun, but it will make a huge difference in how much enjoyment you get in life.
5. Start NOW
It’s never too late – that is my philosophy when it comes to health and wellness. No matter how far you have gone in becoming unhealthy or overweight, you can always reverse the negative effects of neglecting your body. But you have to start now. The farther you let your health go, the longer it will take, and the harder it will be to undo the damage. And, to be frank, you will eventually run out of time to make those changes.
Investing in your health now will allow you to live to its fullest. It isn’t the easiest thing to do, but nothing worth having is. Start now – for you and your loved ones who want to see you healthy and happy. What is the point of retiring wealthy if you don’t feel well enough to enjoy it?
As an extra incentive, Peak Wealth Planning readers in the Champaign area may enjoy a complimentary fitness consultation at Raw Fitness, including a free health assessment, consult, and 30 minute trial training session while checking out the Raw Fitness facility.
If you have been motivated to improve your health, consider improving your wealth by starting now. Reach out to Peter Newman of Peak Wealth Planning.
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About the Author
Danny Iniguez is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is the owner of Raw Fitness Personal Training in Champaign, Illinois. He has been in the gym for 25 years, 10 of which have been professionally. He has experience in strength training, powerlifting, strong man training, competed in marathons, mixed martial arts, dance fitness, and everything in between. Danny's experience includes training youth, special populations, seniors, and general populations. Having once been obese at 267 pounds and losing 70 plus pounds at one point, his goal is to share the success feeling and benefits of becoming a healthier person with anyone who wants to change their life. You can contact Danny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Peter and Peak Wealth Planning
Peter Newman is a Chartered Financial Advisor (CFA) and president of Peak Wealth Planning. He works with individuals nationwide that have accumulated wealth through real estate, concentrated stock ownership, or running a business. Peter applies his unique background to help his clients achieve their specific goals and enjoy peace of mind.
Peak Wealth Planning cares as much for your health as your wealth. What is the point of growing your wealth if you can’t enjoy it? So throughout the month of February Peak Wealth Planning will be dedicating its efforts towards bringing valuable insights into decreasing your risk of heart disease.